Discovering Stuttgart

Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 March

Visiting Rebecca & Felix drew us to Stuttgart, but the other attraction was to see one of Germany’s important cities that we had missed until now.

We had come to know Rebecca and her family through a German exchange program that Hayden and Evan were part of in their school days. It’s been wonderful to remain in touch.

The train journey from Berlin was relatively easy with a change at Nuremberg. The flat dull countryside, still immersed in winter greys, gave way to something more undulating and greener.

After we arrived and settled into our hotel we took a short walk to stretch our legs. We found the Johanneskirche, a gothic church set on an island called the Feuersee. It was very dramatic.

Bruce had picked a traditional and perhaps upmarket restaurant for dinner but when we arrived they had one word for us… voll (full). We found a German but less upmarket restaurant and were treated to a mountain of wiener schnitzel. It was great and a far better deal than the voll upmarket option.

Next day we headed off to the Mercedes Benz museum. The building was designed by HG Merz, a German architect and museum designer. It is built in the shape of a double helix with two intertwining spirals. We started at the top and with the aid of automatic audio guides and information boards told the story of Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz.

Daimler was developing the gas engine in 1886 in Stuttgart. He was attempting to make all varieties of motorised transport – road vehicles, boats, trains and airships. This was the underlying theme of the Mercedes tri-star, pointing to land, sea and air transport.

At the same time Karl Benz was developing the Benz engine, concentrating on creating a robust road vehicle.

A request by Emil Jellinek, an extremely successful businessman and insurance agent in Vienna, to Daimler to build a fast road car in 1899 resulted in the development of the Mercedes model, which was named after his daughter Mercedes Jellinek.

During difficult times in 1926 Daimler and Benz amalgamated and formed Mercedes Benz. Which initially had great success.

It took time for the Mercedes name to regain credibility after WWII but it eventually become the well trusted name of today.

The museum is excellent, with a well told story of the history of the automobile. References were made to Henry Ford, whose museum we had seen in Detroit, but did not overshadow Daimler and Benz’s important contributions to the industry.

We navigated our way back to the old city and explored the area around the old palace, the new palace and the market place.

The New Palace was the residence of the kings of Württemberg. Concordia watches over the square from the top of Jubilee Column, which was commissioned 1841 by King Wilhelm.

Collegiate Church with its two mismatched towers are a symbol of Stuttgart. The principal Protestant Church was built in 15th century.

We had great time visiting the Rebecca and Felix and their family. We had last seen Rebecca and Felix with little Marlon 2½ years ago at Hayden and Andrea’s wedding. Little Marlon now has a little sister Juna. Rebecca’s parents Harald and Barbara had also come from Heidelberg to meet us.

We were treated to a wonderful German fare of lentils, sausage, spaetzler, ‘ravioli’ and potato salad and a lot of good chatter in English.

Marlon, nearly three, couldn’t understand how we could communicate in words he didn’t understand. I am sure he will be speaking English before too long.

We were back on the train next morning – destination Switzerland.